jasmine grace

Kitchari: Nourishment in Each Bowl

Seamless texture of spices on blackThe ancient healing medicine of Ayurvedic places a strong emphasis on food as a way to restore health to the body and the mind. In the Ayurvedic tradition, Kitchari is used to balance digestive health. As you will see below in the recipe, Kitchari is a soup of rice, protein-rich mung beans, nutrient- dense greens and seasonal vegetables, spiced with fresh and dried herbs to support digestion and eliminate toxins. It is a nourishing and cleansing meal in itself. It is often the sole menu item during Ayurvedic cleanses. Sometimes just spending a day or two doing a kitchari diet can ease digestive problems. The amount of water added to the recipe determines how soupy the kitchari is, and can vary depending on your tastes.

This recipe that was given to me by Gary Jacobsson, C.A.S., master teacher and talented chef at the California College of Ayurveda.

1 Tbs                      Ghee or Olive Oil
1 Tsp                      Dry Ginger or 1 Tbs. Fresh Ginger, chopped fine
1 Tsp                      Cumin Powder
1 Tsp                      Coriander Powder
1 Tsp                      Black Mustard Seeds
½ Tsp                     Turmeric Powder
½ Tsp                     Yellow Curry Powder
1 Tsp                      Fennel Powder
1 Tsp                      Sea Salt
1 Tsp                      Asafoetida Powder or 1 Clove of Fresh Garlic
1 Tbs                      Braggs Liquid Aminos
½ Cup                    Basmati Rice
½ Cup                    Split Yellow Mung Beans
4-6 Cups               Filtered Water – Add more water to make soupy
1 Bunch                Fresh Cilantro, chopped as topping
1-2                          Limes, quartered and squeezed over top Read More…

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Making Ghee – Power in a Pad of Butter

by Jasmine Grace

In the Ayurvedic Program at Yoga on High, we are making ghee this weekend. Ghee is clarified butter, and it has a multitude of health and cooking benefits, good for the body, mind and spirit.

How to Make Ghee

The making of ghee can be a very beautiful and peaceful experience. As you make it, be mindful. Perhaps chant and infuse the process with the vibrations and frequency of love and healing.

IngredientsIMG_1958
Grass fed organic unsalted butter (salted butter can be used but it will foam more. I prefer unsalted.)

Method
Place butter in a clean, dry, medium-sized, heavy-bottom sauce pan.

Cook uncovered on medium heat until the butter melts. Throughout the entire ghee-making process, stir the butter occasionally. The butter will start to boil and foam, and you will hear a crackling sound. Once it reaches a boiling point, reduce the heat to low and simmer the butter until the foam forms on the top of it. You will need to part the foam to see the melted butter getting clearer.

Continue to simmer the butter until the crackling subsides. How long the process takes depends on how much butter you are clarifying.

You know ghee is ready when:

  • Crackling stops, which is an indication that the moisture has been cooked away
  • Under the foam film, the butter becomes a golden yellow liquid
  • The milk solids separate and settle in the bottom of the pan, and are light brown in color

Be careful not to overcook the ghee and burn the milk solids. When burned, they turn a dark brown and/or the liquid ghee will be dark brown.

When the butter is clarified, remove the pan from the heat and let the ghee cool for about 30 minutes, then pour it through a fine strainer lined with 1 layer of muslin. Strain it multiple times, if necessary, to ensure that all the milk solids are strained out.

Pour the ghee into a clean, dry glass jar. Do not place a lid on the jar until the ghee has fully cooled. Ghee can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2 months.

Why Ghee?

IMG_19999999999It is high in nutrition: Ghee is rich in vitamins A, E, K2 and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid, an antioxidant with anti-viral properties if it is sourced from grass fed cows).

It has a high smoke point for cooking (482 °F).
Unlike many other oils you can cook and fry with ghee, and it will not break down into free radicals

It has a great buttery taste but doesn’t prompt reactions to dairy allergies
Ghee is made from butter, but the milk solids and impurities have been removed so that most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee.

It supports digestive health
Ghee is rich in butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid that is beneficial to intestinal bacteria used to support intestinal wall health. Ghee can also stimulate the secretion of gastric acid. Consuming ghee therefore supports overall digestive health.

It can support the mind and spirit

The mind and body are directly connected. Modern science teaches us that there is a chemical nature to our emotions. Our negative emotions can release hormones and chemicals that are stored in fat. When used properly in a cleanse regimen, ghee can help cleanse (oleate) these tissues and pull the toxins from the body, positively effecting our emotional state. Ghee has a sattvic (clear and balanced) quality. Sattvic foods promote positivity, growth and expansion of consciousness.

Uses of Ghee

  1. For massage (Abhyanga): It is said that 60% of what we place on our skin is absorbed into the body, bypassing the digestive system. This allows ghee’s qualities to penetrate directly into the tissues.
  2. In cleanses (Panchakarma): a small amount of ghee, taken first thing in the morning to oleate the internal organs and “dissolve” the ama or toxic wastes in the tissues, allows toxins to be carried to the digestive tract for elimination.
  3. It is a carrier for herbal formulas: Ghee is used in Ayurveda as a carrier for medicinal herbal preparations so that they are transported to and absorbed by targeted areas of the body, deep in the tissues (dhatus).
  4. To support bowel movements: one or two teaspoons of ghee first thing in the morning, followed immediately with a cup of hot water, will promptly produce a bowel movement. It will also warm the body quickly. Two spoonfuls of ghee in warm (non-homogenized) milk before bedtime is soothing to the nerves, lubricates the intestines and facilitates a bowel movement in the morning.
  5. For cooking: Due to its high burn point, ghee is one of the best cooking oils.
  6. For oil-pulling: Excellent for swishing through teeth (1 tablespoon) to improve the health of the teeth and gums.
  7. For bathing: Mix ghee with several drops of an essential oil and place the mixture in your bathwater for a nurturing bath.
  8. For a topical treatment: Ghee is excellent to put on topically for both chemical or fire burns and scrapes on the body.
  9. In the eyes: A small drop of room temperature ghee can be used in the eyes for lubrication and eye fatigue. This is best done at night before bed as a small film of ghee will cover the eye until it is absorbed into the tissue.

10. Facial use: Ghee can be used as a make-up remover and moisturizer for the face.

11. Nasal use: Use a few drops in each nostril after Neti pot use, or if you get a nosebleed, or to alleviate nasal dryness.

12. To balance the Ayurvedic Doshas: Ghee can increase Kapha and decrease Vata and Pitta.

IMG_1999999

The Yoga on High Teacher Training and Ayurveda Institute: School of Ayurveda has certifications in wellness counseling in Ayurvedic Health Education (A.H.E) and Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (C.A.P). Our next program begins in October 2015.

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Getting Sexy Back for Me

IMG_7170One of the words I used in my 40 Day Transformation mantra was “sexy”! When I feel sexy in my own skin my entire body feels the pulse of life at a cellular level; healthy, vibrant, confident and happy. On the flip side of this is feeling unsexy; stressed out, a lack of energy, complacency, and possible feelings of depression an hopelessness. In the ebb and flow of life I have meandered through both and I am here to say at my 2 week point of the 40 Day Transformation I am starting to get my sexy back and it feels good! I am sure spending a week with my husband in sunny California has helped but I truly believe the important ingredients to bringing sexy back are as follows:

  1. Move your booty and sweat daily; yoga, run, lift weights, martial arts -- whatever your passion is. (Also, do some of this with your significant other so you can have the high together)
  2. Eat clean for your body and mind; see food as fuel for vibrancy, energy and lightness.
  3. Multi task less and be present in your conversations and relationships; where your awareness flows energy goes so be mindful of where and how you place your attention.
  4. Less phone and computer time and more time outdoors in nature and the sunshine; need I say more?
  5. Take time for self-care and beauty maintenance; get a massage, pedicure, wax, floss. Better still, invest in some quality massage oils and ask your significant other to join you in a partner massage exchange.
  6. Stay positive thru meditation and affirmation; contemplating the oneness of all beings and practicing self acceptance.
  7. Fall in love with yourself; treat yourself in word, thought and action like you would a lover.
  8. Know your values and don’t settle for anything less; if it does not serve you let it go.IMG_7175
  9. Find time to play and have fun; a good belly laugh is great for the libido.
  10. Find balance in striving to achieve your goals, listening to your mind, body and soul and acceptance of where you are today. Understand that change takes place with frequency and consistency.

Many of these things here are listed in my intentions of this awesome 40 Day challenge. Let’s face it, feeling sexy is an important part of being human, feeling pleasure and being alive. That’s motivation enough for me to continue to stay on this path #40dayrest!

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40 Day Reset ~ Aspirations

photo-5Jasmine. ENERGETIC, STRONG, LEAN, SEXY!

Sadhana -daily practice
Yoga Asana 6xweek (3 in studio classes)
Meditation/iRest Yoga Nidra Daily

Fitness -- kick start the 35+ metabolism
Run/cardio 4x week for at least 30 minutes
Weights 3x week
Plyometric/Core work 3x week

Nutrition – eat intelligent food for maximum energy and nutrition
Kapha Balancing Diet; no sugar, no dairy. Biggest meal is lunch with breakfast and dinner being easily digestable.
1 Gallon of water a day – includes lemon water and detox tea – sip all day
Triphala tea in the evenings before bed

Self Care – feeling good inside and out
Floss daily
Tongue Scrapping daily
Oil Pulling daily
Dry Brush daily
Ayurveda Oil Baths 2x week

Connectivity
Journal Daily – 1 page
List one thing I am grateful for each day
Have one friendship date a week
Chant daily – 10 minutes
Get outside for 30+ minutes each day

Michele. Strong, Lucky, Beautiful, Deserving.

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Clarity
I practice yoga 6x per week. 3 in-studio classes.
I make time to meditate daily. Minimum 20 minutes.
I get, at least, one 3-hour stretch of totally alone time weekly.
I spend a minimum of 1 hour outside a day. (20 mins for rain days.)

Physical Wellness
I eat whole, healthy meals as a form of self-care.  Five meals per day. Vegetarian, no sugar (fruit’s cool though). 1 “whatever” meal per week.
I drink 100oz of water per day to include herbal tea.

Fitness
I run. For fun.
I weight train 3 times a week -- Mondays: chest, shoulders, triceps, Wednesdays: back and biceps, Friday: legs with plyos and abs worked into each (follow me on my facebook page for some of the detailed workouts.)

Reality Check
I write love and appreciates daily.
I write gratitude items daily.
I list motivations and inspirations daily.
I take time to bask in the wonder of it all (daily!)

Connections
I am a patient and creative mother -- 1 art/science project a week with kids and minimum one legit outdoor adventure too.
I have 1 friend date a week outside of work.
I let my partner know that I appreciate him.
I volunteer my time 1-2 hours per week.

Here are my love & appreciates for today:
I love & appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my body, I love and appreciate myself.
I love and appreciate my fingers that allow me to type and communicate with friends.
I love and appreciate my throat, the tunnel my coffee takes to my belly, getting much loved caffeine to my whole body!
I love and appreciate my feet. Especially bare. Especially bare in dirt. Especially bare in dirt in the summer. (And fireflies, I love and appreciate them too.)

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40-Days to Reset, Renew, Revitalize!

1291864_10202017943797919_718946573_oIs there something to this 40-Day Transformation thing? Jasmine and I are determined to find out! Join us for the next 40-Days as we detox, meditate, stretch, strengthen and grow on our personal 40-Day Vibrant Wellness Journey.

Step 1: Contemplation and Journaling
Jasmine and I each take time to contemplate the question, “What might there be for me to learn/receive from the 40-day Reset, Renew, Revitalize Journey?”
After we sit with this question, each of us spent about 20 minutes writing about the feelings, thoughts and messages that came up during the contemplation.

Step 2: Defining our Aspirations and Intentions
Setting our aspirations for our 40-Days will help to keep us focused on our broad desires and also give us a framework from which to set our daily intentions. (Check out my blog on intentions).

For me, when creating concrete goals or aspirations, I follow this formula:

  • -- Write aspirations in the present tense, as if they’re already a statement of truth. Instead of “I’m going to eat healthy food” I would write “I eat whole, healthy food as a form of self-care.” Instead of “do an unsupported handstand.” I would write “I enjoy unsupported handstands that feel strong and stable.”
  • -- Make goals time bound and measurable. For instance, instead of saying “I want to do more yoga,”I would write, “I practice yoga three times a week in a teacher-lead class and three times at home for 60-90 minutes”. Or, in this aspiration language, I would write “I weigh xxx pounds by October 27th,” or “I am xx% body fat” or “I run a 5k in xx minutes on September 7th”.
  • -- Dream Big, but not crazy! While I want to allow myself to dream big dreams, I also want to make sure that my goals and aspirations are within my reality. I love to run, but I’m not terribly fast. Setting a goal of “I run a 17 minute 5k in September” is beyond my reach and sets me up for failure. A more realistic goal might be to shave some time off my PR (personal record). By looking at a training program designed to get me to that time, I can assess how many weeks/months I need to reach that goal and then state “I run a xx minute 5k on October XX”. Similarly, floating through my vinyasas is not a reality for me at the moment. I don’t have to give this up as an aspiration though. Instead, I might look at breaking “Floating” down into smaller pieces and set markers around that -- for example working on Lolasana first with big blocks, then with 1/2 blocks, then with hands on the mat, then rolling my shins parallel to floor, then step one foot back, etc.
  • -- Start by seeing the big picture. In my case, I want to feel content and healthy, and ultimately I wish to live as an expression of loving kindness. In living my “today”, I move toward that ultimate desire by devoting myself to what feel like more easily digestible pieces. I know that in order for me, personally, to feel content and healthy I must address my physical, mental and emotional/spiritual being. That means addressing what I eat, how I move my body, how I speak to myself and others, how much rest I get, how much time I spend outside, how much time I have with my family and also by myself, and there is definitely a component of how much fun I have! When I set goals/intentions, I address each of these. (Check out tomorrow’s blog for both Jasmine and my 40-day aspirations.)

Step 3: Sharing our Hopes and Visions (out loud!!)
From experience, I realize that sharing my dreams and goals out loud is a powerful and important step in the “becoming” process. By sharing my dreams/goals/intentions, I hold myself accountable and also admit to myself and the world that there is a specific direction I’d like to be headed. In the past, there were times when I shared my desires for the “future me” quietly, with fear of being judged and perhaps some self-consciousness or some bit of asking for permission. What I learned is that the more I spoke the desire, the more confident and clear I became in “owning” or integrating the vision into myself. It became a statement of fact. One without shame, without fear and without need for external acceptance or permission. I have grown strong in many ways from this “out loud” practice. If you don’t have someone to tell your dreams to, or if it’s still a bit on the scary side, write them down -- seeing them on paper can have a strong impact too -- like a contract (or promise if you prefer) with oneself.

Step 4: Prep Work
If your intention, for example, has something to do with eating whole healthy foods, and your 40-day Journey starts tomorrow, set yourself up for success -- go shopping and stock the house with fresh food. Pick out recipes that you can make ahead and fill the fridge with easy options that will meet your need for this form of self-care. If your intention is to go to a 7a or 5a yoga class, set your clothes out before bed (check out Jasmine’s blog on this). If your intention is to meditate daily, create a spot where this can happen…it doesn’t have to be big or fancy, but make it inviting and easy. Also, try to anticipate obstacles you might face. For instance, I’m on vacation this week. While this presents great opportunities for me to meet my fitness and time outside goals, eating in the way that I want is more of a challenge. I definitely need to spend some time coming up with airport food strategies. This helps ensure I’ll not have excuses to “fall off the wagon” when faced with booth after booth of unhealthy food options.1000600_10151681813011784_2019940012_n

Step 5: Find an accountability buddy
Jasmine and I will serve as each other’s accountability buddies. And in a way, you will be there for us too as we blog about our
experiences over the next 40-days. Get friends to meet you at the park or at yoga class, tell them that you’d love them to check in on your progress and ask how you’re doing. And choose people who will be supportive in a way that feels good and healthy to you.

Step 6: Here we Go! And we’re gonna have fun too!!

xo

Michele

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Harmony, Compassion and Ahimsa

This is one in a series of articles on living with the Yoga Sutras that will appear on this blog over the next  year. Learn about how and why we explore this philosophical yogic text and how you can participate.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali list the yamas, restraints or “don’ts”. The first Yama is Ahimsa, often translated as non-violence or non-harming. Ahimsa is asking us not to be violent in our thoughts, words, and actions. Many of you have often heard me speak about oneness in my yoga classes. If we are dedicated to the oneness or wholeness of life and the interconnectedness of all living things we are naturally supporting living a life of ahimsa. It is the ideal of living a life in harmony with all living things.

Screech! Stop the record! This sounds beautiful but I have found that living ahimsa is a mindful struggle to overcome negative (violent and harming) thoughts. This struggle can be born of  anger, fear and a myriad of other negative emotions. Violence in any form often causes pain and suffering and this is something we all share. Once we realize we are all in this together it allows us to have empathy and operate more freely from a place of compassion and love! Read More…

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Shining Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

by Jasmine Astra-Elle Grace

Do you hear teachers talking about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali in class and wonder what they are rambling about? Well, over the next few months, I have been asked to share with you all some of the key concepts found in this important philosophical yogic book.  I welcome you to join in on the journey!  Some even say that the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali text is as important as the yoga mat itself…I will leave that for you to decide.

Invariably, “success” in yoga is through practice (sadhana). This idea of practice and experience for yourself is not only for asanas on the yoga mat; but, for all 8 limbs of yoga outlined in the philosophical text of the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. While we may be able to memorize the words and intellectually understand the concepts, it is not until we have internalized the teachings and stayed with them for a period of time that we can truly be anchored in our own experience of the teachings.  Anchored in a knowing that exist in the silence and space between the words. Exploration of the sutras is essentially a method of self-inquiry.

If you are new to yoga or the philosophy of yoga here is the basic overview of the 8 limbs of yoga.

1. Yama -- the five restraints

Ahimsa -- Non-violence, non-harming, compassion for self and others.

Satya – Truthfulness in thought, word, and action.
Brahmacharya -- Control of the senses and energy conservation.

Asteya -- Non-stealing

Aparigraha – Non-grasping, non-attachment, non-hoarding.

2. Niyama -- the five observances

Saucha -- Purity, cleanliness of one’s body, surroundings and mind.

Santosha -- Contentment

Tapas -- Austerity

Swadhyaya -- Self-study, study of scriptures.

Ishwara Pranidhana -- Surrender to the fullness of self, surrender to God.

3. Asana -- Steady posture or seat

4. Pranayama -- Control of prana or life force

5. Pratyahara -- Withdrawal of the senses or to turn awareness inwards.

6. Dharana -- Concentration

7. Dhyana -- Meditation

8. Samadhi -- Total absorption, bliss, to hold the realization of unity.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the 8 limbs of yoga are very familiar to our Yoga on High Teacher Training Institute teacher trainees and graduates. In our 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program, every graduating student has to choose a single sutra to contemplate over a month. The student journals about it daily for that month and has a first hand record of how the sutra shows up for them in their life. Their chosen sutra becomes a self-inquiry and a direct experience of living yoga.

In honor of the theme of the month, love, I was asked to share a blog on the first, and perhaps, most important Yama, Ahimsa. I have spent the last month refreshing my understanding of the concept, contemplating it, observing what rises within, looking at my level of harmony in relationships with all living beings, and doing simple meditations on love (which I will share with you) to raise my personal energetic vibrations. I have to admit I had a blindfold on and thought I was a “good” yogi living Ahimsa the majority of the time. However, as soon I brought my attention to contemplating Ahimsa it kindly showed me I have much work to do.

I look forward to sharing this most personal experience – the humanness, the self-inquiry, the practices, and the insights!

Shanti,
Jasmine Astra-Elle Grace

If you are interested in living the sutras with Jasmine Grace she recommends the following texts:

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- Sri Swami Satchinanda

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- B.K.S Iyengar

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- Edwin F. Bryant

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Pose of the Moment – Bakasana

As a new contribution to our blog we will be doing a Pose of the Moment. Moreover, on any given day, if you visit one of my Vinyasa or Hot Yoga classes you may just find the pose in the yoga sequence! One of the definitions of Vinyasa yoga is to place in a special way. Personally, the poses I share with you will be thoughtfully placed into my sequences using preparatory asanas that open and stabilize the body. In these articles in addition to looking at preparatory poses we will review the anatomy of the pose, modifications, what the asana is a preparatory pose for, counter poses and possible therapeutic and emotional benefits. I hope you find the information useful and I look forward to seeing you in class.

by Jasmine Grace

Pose of the Moment
Have you been to one of my classes lately? If not in almost every class I have been working on Bakasana. Have fun exploring this fun pose!

Sanskrit Name: Bakasana

Other Name/s: Crane or crow

Instruction to Come Into the Pose:

  1. Squat down and place palms flat on the floor with middle fingers facing forward. Elbows can be bent.
  2. Bring knees high onto upper arms and as close to the armpits as possible.
  3. Come to the tippy toes with feet coming close together. Squeeze the knees into the armpits and lift the feet, lift the pelvic floor, and straighten arms as much as possible.
  4. Gaze forward down the nose.

Modifications and Playing with the Pose:
I like to practice this at home with pillows in front of me for crash landings. It helps with the fear factor.

If you are still building strength, try to lift one foot of the floor at a time and work on the stabilizing poses listed below.

You can also place a block under your feet to get the height. Then try a lift feet of block.

As always, practice daily and build strength, coordination and confidence.

Play with the concept apana (downward) prana (upward). Ground (apana) through the hands to and finding lightness in the pelvic floor and feet.

Gaze/Drishti: Tip of nose

Anatomy & Preparatory Poses:

What needs to be open:
Hip extensors, Ankle dorsiflexors, back extensors, shoulder elevators and retractors, wrist flexors.

Marichysana A

Preparatory Asanas for Opening:
Balasana (child’s pose), Bidalasana (Cat Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), Marichysana A (Sage Marichi’s Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana A (Spread-Leg Forward Fold Pose A), Uttana Prasithasana (Flying Lizard Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend).

What needs to be stable:
Wrist synergists, elbow synergists, shoulder stabilizers, external rotators of the arm, chest, abdominals, hop adductors and flexors, pelvic floor, knee flexors.

Preparatory Asanas for Stabilizing:
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Chaturunga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), Navasana (Boat Pose), Phalakasana (Plank Pose),  Marichysana A (Sage Marichi’s Pose), Bidalasana (Cat Pose).

This Asana Prepares You For:
Tittibsana (Firefly), Parsva Bakasana (Side Crane/Crow), Eka pada Koundinyasana (One-leg Sage Koundinya’s Pose), Sirsasana II series (Tripod Headstand), transition pose by hopping from Arho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog).

Counterposes:
Balasana (Child’s Pose), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-facing Dog), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down Dog), Wrist Stretches, Vinyasa.

Resources: Stephens, Mark. 2012. Yoga Sequencing; Designing Transformative Yoga Classes. Berkeley, CA : North Atlantic Books
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Made with Love – Feel Good Food!

By Jasmine Astra-elle Grace

Have you heard of the term “made with love”?

I am sitting at the JFK airport at a little café. With few food choices at an airport I found what I thought was my best option -- a rice bowl that needed to be prepared by the deli chef. I stood at the counter for 5 minutes waiting patiently to be acknowledged while the staff member was busy doing this and that. Finally I asked if they were open for lunch. In an annoyed voice he grumbled yes. By this time more people had lined up behind me. I asked for my rice bowl and felt his increasing negativity. I thought to myself, wow, he must be having a bad day. Intent to lift the vibration and be joyful, I asked him a couple of friendly questions to make contact with him. I think he cracked a smile, but by this point I no longer wanted food the he prepared. I told him that I changed my mind and decided on the self-serve vegetarian soup. One person behind me decided to leave too.

This reminds me of something. When I was a little girl I used to make tea for my mother. She had tea in the English tradition, with milk and one sugar. It is a little bit of a science to add just the right amount of milk and sugar for the perfect taste. Sometimes, I made this for her rather reluctantly and with a bad attitude – like when your parents asked you clean your room – it was a chore. Other times I made it with love and gratitude. My mother could always tell and would smile and comment, “Oh, this is made with love”. On occasion, when I was being stroppy, she would make me go back and make it again and “with the right intention”. I was in my early teens when she would do this, but the lesson stuck. There is an energetic vibration in our emotions and actions. Our food carries this vibration too, and this vibration goes into the body. Food has prana (energy, life-force, chi) or it should! Much of the food we consume does not, but that is another topic in itself.

Have you ever noticed that when you are tired and cook the food tastes different then when you are enjoying the art of cooking? I believe being joyful and loving as you prepare and cook, your feelings go into the food and create a healthy and wholesome meal. I have gotten to a point where I know longer want to consume “dead or negative food”. I would much rather be a little hungry than eat food that does not “feel” good. More and more I am bringing my own food with me, and I have emergency snacks on hand. As we are become aware of the environmental impact of how we grow and handle food and of its nutritional value, we also need to be aware of how we prepare our food. This is catching on. Have you seen the labels that include “love” in the ingredients? I think they may be charging a dollar extra for this ingredient but I think it is a dollar I am willing to pay to continue to raise the consciousness on the planet.

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Slow Down and Eat!

by Jasmine Astra-elle Grace

Happy New Year! Linda Oshins captured Yoga on High’s year so well in her last blog. I am so happy to be part such an amazing organization, surrounded by such amazing Yogis. Life is sweet and 2012 was a great year.

As we go into 2013, I feel a strong pull towards releasing things of the past that do not serve my highest good anymore. Mindfulness and awareness are being shone directly (I am talking a commercial grade spotlight) on old habits and patterns that are no longer needed. Change is required and this is always a process. There is often some death in change. Something has to be given-up, tweaked, closed or opened in order to make way for the new. Oh, what to let go of first in 2013?

The lesson I share here is around mindfulness and slowing down while eating. Have you ever eaten something only to go back for another piece and it was all gone? You had actually eaten it and didn’t even notice. Well in my multitasking world (yes, I multi-task during eating) I have done this. In my last blog I wrote about my time in Kripalu. I mentioned I had many lessons on this transformative trip. In the early mornings at Kripalu we all eat breakfast in silence. On the first day, this was odd for me, but it forced me to bring my attention to eating. On the table they have a little informative flip chart that explains the silent breakfast something like this:

1. Think about where the food came from – farmers, truck drivers, chefs, waiters etc… and send blessings and gratitude to all those who helped serve you.

2. Eat one bite at a time. Put your knife and fork down in between each bite. Really taste the food. Eat slowly. Concentrate on the act of eating itself.

3. Notice your internal dialogue and make a choice to be present.

A simple lesson, yes. Something I already know, yes. But something I am terrible at doing. I get so engrossed in work or family activities sometimes I wish I could just take a pill and not have to eat. Other times I am so hungry because I have not eaten all day that I gobble the food up without my taste buds even having a chance to react. Such is the fast paced world we live in – often no time for digestion, integration and, often, connection. In truth, one of my worst habits is eating too fast and with no mindfulness. Yuck. How can I be a yogi and eat fast? Isn’t yoga about mindfulness and awareness in all we do on and off the mat?

Well, I have not made any new year’s resolutions but I have set an intention to be more mindful and slow down when eating. At my family dinner table I am always the first one finished. Although my husband and I set the example of saying prayers and blessings I set a terrible example for my daughter by wolfing down my food, only to get up and start doing my projects and duties. Now my personal prayer is to eat slowly and mindfully. Eating fast is a lifetime habit—a deeply grooved path. Have you ever had to change a bad habit in asana practice? The old habit is familiar and the new behavior has a weird foreign feel. You have to find comfort in the correction, do it enough times that you find a new place of ease while maintaining awareness.

It helps me to release non-serving habits by knowing the benefits of choosing a new direction:

1. Lose weight: eating more slowly allows your brain to register that you are full so you eat fewer calories.

2. Taste and enjoy your food: actually tasting your food helps digestion and releases endorphins. Eating small amounts of treats (dark chocolate, gourmet pizza, Jenni’s ice cream) can be easily handled by our body if we “savor the flavor”.

3. Better digestion: digestion starts in the mouth with your taste buds and chewing. Eating slowly supports digestion right from the beginning.

4. Develop mindfulness and lessen stress: make eating a mindfulness practice and see how this reduces stress in your body and lifestyle.

5. Support local food growers: what we eat and where we buy our food fuels the market. We need to be conscious consumers. If we don’t buy something, eventually it will no longer be sold.

Is anyone up for trying this with me this year? Oh, and if you see me eating fast, please nudge me – it is like breaking a bad habit in asana class. You need lots of reminders.

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